Sumario: September 18, 2002: Commission agrees plan to boost developing countries' capacity to benefit from trade (Brussels)
Looking to build on the foundations laid in Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg, the European Commission today adopted an action plan to boost developing countries' efforts to capture the benefits of trade.
The Communication to the Council and European Parliament, entitled 'Trade and Development: assisting developing countries to benefit from trade', sets out the importance of the relationship between development, trade and the integration of developing countries into the world economy. It concludes with a series of practical ways in which the European Union intends to support the developing world in its efforts to gain more from the world trading system, including adjustment of funding for trade related assistance as necessary, in agreement with partner countries.
The Commission plan ranges from measures aimed at improving the delivery of trade related assistance in key areas to ideas for better co-ordination and policy coherence within the EU and with international organizations. Overall, the measures should help developing countries, and in particular the least developed countries, acquire institutional regulatory capacity, and the expertise to deal with the technicalities of trading in a global system. At the same time, the Commission stresses the importance for developing countries to improve the investment climate for the business sector and to ensure poor people can fully benefit from trade.
Welcoming the adoption of the document, Poul Nielson, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "Making a decent living on the regional and global marketplace is a tall order for any business. To support their fight against poverty, it is absolutely essential that we help developing countries get a fair share of the action. This will only work in the poorer countries with a permanent transfer of knowledge and capacity-building. Only then will we be able to offer better effective access to our markets. I am pleased that this initiative recognizes the crucial importance of offering both "trade" and "aid".
And EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy added: "What we want to establish here is how we can put trade at the service of development. Early in 2001, we came up with "Everything But Arms", totally liberalizing our markets for the poorest countries. Later that year, the whole world community made some bold pledges about integrating all developing countries into the world economy when we launched the WTO Doha Development Agenda. Today's plan shows the EU is ready to make both Everything But Arms and the DDA a reality with a programme of trade-related technical assistance to help all developing countries gain effective access to global markets.
These actions will also be vital in the EU-ACP post-Cotonou negotiations, which we launch next week".
Eligible activities would cover support in different areas from developing products other countries want to import, to making it easier for traders to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the multilateral trading system for instance, meeting international technical and phytosanitary standards, dealing with certification, customs administration and processes, and protecting intellectual property rights. Assistance would also be channeled towards capacity-building: i.e. training officials, equipping negotiators with the knowledge and skills to enable them to be effective in international negotiations, in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and elsewhere. The EU will pay particular attention to providing adequate assistance to poorest countries.
The European Union will co-operate closely with other players in the international community (eg, the WTO and other international agencies) in developing, funding and making available appropriate training. It would aim to make sure the resources and expertise available in different locations are identified and coordinated, and made available to all countries which would benefit. Some programmes would be directed at regions, rather than specific countries. Countries which are not yet members of the WTO will be eligible for assistance to help them in the accession negotiations, and eventually to join.
The Commission will draw up a review of the EU's trade-related assistance by the end of 2005.
Over the past five years, the EU has already spent about €640 million on 117 operations classified as trade-related assistance. About 70 percent of this is trade development and support for the private sector, and 30 percent is technical assistance and capacity-building. Around 60 percent of EU assistance was aimed at regional projects and the programs are often linked to new trade agreements with the EU. Over 60 percent of this was earmarked for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
Recent and forthcoming trade-related assistance programmes include: